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PROVIDERS: SOME DO’S AND DON’TS FOR IMPROVING PARENT/PROVIDER RELATIONSHIPS
By BARBARA J. GOFF, Ed.D
- Say positive things to the parents about their child—they’ve heard
plenty of negatives over
the years. Make routine phone calls with good news.
- Arrange the individual’s team meetings at a time and place convenient
for the family
and allow a realistic amount of time for meaningful discussion
- Work with families in coordinating home visits so that you can plan
accordingly. Remember, a special family occasion trumps any policy on
- Provide the family with the program’s policies and procedures in writing
and discuss them
up front. Make sure to provide a good rationale for your policies.
- Take the initiative to contact families about any unusual happenings
involving their child.
You can be sure they are going to hear about it in any case!
- Communicate thoroughly and regularly with your supervisor about any
issues you are
experiencing or foresee with parents and families. You may need guidance in
be proactive, not reactive
- Ask the parents questions about their child. They possess a wealth of
would love nothing more than to share it with those who need it most—you.
- Be sensitive to parent concerns over restrictions regarding calling and
visiting. While such
policies serve an important function for the program; they can alienate some
especially those with children who are unable to articulate their
- Tell the truth and take responsibility for your mistakes. (You will make
- Work together to establish balanced and realistic expectations
- Be disrespectful or lose your temper with family members no matter how
upset you may be.
Instead, respectfully end the conversation.
- Discuss internal agency or personnel issues with family members. It only
serves to confuse
and create ill will.
- Discuss confidential matters pertaining to other program participants or
discuss the family
member in front of other program participants
- Contradict a parent’s decision in front of their family member
- Believe everything an individual reports about their latest home
visit…like the apple pie
and quart of ice cream their mom let them eat.
- Say you are going to do something and then not do it. Parents count on
you to follow
- Be afraid to ask for help…Whether it’s a new approach to managing a
behavior or needing
a new treadmill…most parents will do whatever it takes to support their
child’s program…make assumptions
- Don’t expect that parents are going to understand all the complications
and intricacies in managing a program for several people. That’s not their
- Do recognize that most families are very grateful for your support and
care of their family member, even if they don’t always show it.